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Gov’t to regularise informal settlements in Central Westmoreland

Featured Minister with responsibility for housing Dr Morais Guy (2nd right), along with Housing Regional Manager in Savanna-la-mar, Sherene Newman; M.P. for Central Westmoreland, Dwayne Vaz; Director of Lands in the Ministry, Vincent Haldane; and Sales Collection Officer, Everton Lynch, examining a map of the Hatfield area, during his tour of informal settlements in Savanna-la-mar on January 15 and 16. Minister with responsibility for housing Dr Morais Guy (2nd right), along with Housing Regional Manager in Savanna-la-mar, Sherene Newman; M.P. for Central Westmoreland, Dwayne Vaz; Director of Lands in the Ministry, Vincent Haldane; and Sales Collection Officer, Everton Lynch, examining a map of the Hatfield area, during his tour of informal settlements in Savanna-la-mar on January 15 and 16.
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland January 17, 2015 - Persons living in informal housing settlements in Central Westmoreland are shortly to be given the opportunity to own the plots of land on which they live under the Government’s comprehensive national titling programme, which was launched in 2012.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. Morais Guy, toured 12 homesteads in Central Westmoreland On Thursday and Friday, to get first hand knowledge of the living conditions of settlers in these communities, and apprise them of negotiations for acquisition of the lands they occupy.

He was accompanied by Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Dwayne Vaz; Councillors Bernard Vanreil, Donald Gordon and Devon Thompson, as well as technocrats from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.

Dr. Guy said negotiations for the purchase of lands in 12 informal settlements are at various stages; however, the Government is taking steps to expedite the process with private and public sector owners – DALCO Limited, Commissioner of Lands, Westmoreland Parish Council and Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ). Many of them are settlers under Operation PRIDE.

Addressing residents at the Paradise settlement, Minister Guy said that regularising informal settlers is high on the agenda of his ministry and negotiations with DALCO are advanced.

“We have settled on the purchase price and the ministry is going to pay for it. As you have noticed, surveyors have come in and pegged out certain areas. We can’t do anything further than that, until the land is in the name of the Ministry,” Dr. Guy pointed out.

“But what we are committed to do, and as part of the directive given to me by the Prime Minister, is that we are going to the next phase of splintering the titles, so that the people who live on the land can get it,” the Minister said.

He encouraged members who are members of Provident Societies to continue preparations to cover their legal and purchasing costs, as “the land is not free.”

“The Government is buying the land upfront, but government is going to charge you for the land, and we are not going to charge you any big money. We are going to charge you what the land is worth,” the Minister said.

Newly elected Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Dwayne Vaz, said many residents in informal settlements have not been able to improve their dwellings due to their insecure tenure.

He said his vision for the communities is to have them formalised and have occupiers purchase the lands, which some have occupied for generations spanning more than 40 years.

The tour concluded with visits to Llandilo Phase 6 development, Brack Heath, Barham and Frome Housing Scheme.

Dr. Guy told JIS News that the titling programme is expected to have far reaching benefits as it dove-tails into the country’s Vision 2030 long-term national development plan, which aims to enable Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030.

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